By Kathy Ponce
Are you due for a five-year renewal of your certification as a chaplain with NACC? Have you been postponing it? Dec. 31 is the deadline to apply for renewal this year without losing your certification or needing to request an extension (and pay the extension fee). You’ll receive your final reminder (of four) in November if you are due to renew.
Most of you know that revised “NACC Competencies and Qualifications” for initial certification and renewal have replaced the “NACC Standards and Qualifications” as of Jan. 1, 2017. The education report forms prior to 2017 are a bit different from the forms for 2017 and 2018. When you submit your record of 50 hours of continuing education per year, make sure you use the appropriate form for each year.
Carefully code each activity that you document on the report form – “A” for attended, “P” for presented, “M” for review of educational materials, or “V’ for volunteer service to the NACC that has educational value for you. A minimum of five hours in each of the four categories on the form must be for events that you have attended. To record “A,” you must be present during the original presentation of a conference or other educational event — in person, online, or on the phone. If you were NOT present, the event must be recorded as “M.” Be sure to include at least 10 hours in each of the four categories on each year’s education report form. The remaining 10 hours for each year can be divided among the categories as you see fit.
Sometimes chaplains are puzzled about which educational activities fit into which category, because many activities can be appropriate for more than one. Use your discretion and discernment. It might help to look at the individual competencies (“standards” prior to 2017) in each category. If you served as both a presenter and an attendee at a particular educational activity, you could record the number of “P” hours separately from the “A” hours. Additionally, you can divide the hours you’ve acquired for a particular educational activity and include those hours under several categories. Make sure you clarify this by noting the total number of hours for the activity and how many hours you’re reporting in each category.
Many chaplains in remote areas have reported that they have difficulty attending 20 hours of continuing ed each year. Consequently, the NACC has steadily increased the number of webinars it sponsors, in addition to informing members about other presentations that members can actively participate in by phone or online. Participation in the hourlong networking calls listed in NACC Now also counts as attending a continuing education activity, as does attending educational events at your place of ministry — including continuing medical education lectures and grand rounds.
Certainly, everyone is familiar with listing books, articles, and presentations under “M,” but do you realize that many of the offerings on National Public Radio, such as TED talks, often cover psychology, sociology, ethics and can provide excellent educational information? Similarly, “On Being” (Krista Tippett) on public radio offers a variety of perspectives on religious and spiritual issues. Public television also has on topics relevant to chaplain continuing education for ministry. The current guidelines for continuing education are included on the renewal of certification website, but creativity in choosing educational materials is applauded and encouraged. Additionally, the Certification Commission would be interested in considering certified chaplains’ suggestions on their unique ways to accrue their “M” hours. (Please submit suggestions to any member of the Commission.)
However … please remember that routine activities that are a part of professional ministry responsibilities (liturgical rites, patient visitation, CPE student mentoring, or training mandated by one’s employer) may NOT be submitted as continuing education activities.
The Certification Commission has also taken some steps to improve the peer review process. Because renewal of certification is a wonderful opportunity for chaplains to review carefully their educational activities, to reflect on career and life events in the past five years, to review their progress toward goals from their last certification, and to establish new goals for the next five years, all renewing chaplains should take care that their peer reviews are thorough. The Commission has refined the resources for peer reviewers, including suggesting that they thoroughly review applicants’ continuing education documentation.
A new opportunity in the past five years is that certified chaplains who are retired, and who meet certain criteria, can renew their certification without providing a peer review, a record of continuing education hours, or a renewal fee. Please click the link above to see if you qualify and to decide whether you might be interested.
The NACC website has detailed information on all aspects of certification renewal, but hopefully this helps to clarify some of the recent issues.
Kathy Ponce, BCC, is a member of the Certification Commission and Adjunct Instructor at Loyola University in Chicago.